Pest Animals

Pest animals are invasive species that have been introduced into Victoria or Australia.

Pest animals have very few natural predators and as a result, their populations can multiply quickly. They threaten our native wildlife species in many ways, including being preyed upon and competing with them for food and habitat.

There are two key threats to biodiversity posed by pest animals – overgrazing / habitat destruction and predation of native animals.

  • Grazing by feral animals impacts on the regeneration of native vegetation. Pest herbivores known to occur in the Macedon Ranges Shire include goats, pigs, deer, hares and rabbits. These species threaten native flora and fauna through competition for the same resources and creation of additional grazing pressure on native vegetation communities and agricultural systems. In the case of rabbits, more than 2 rabbits per hectare can virtually eliminate the regeneration potential of plant species. 12 rabbits per hectare can exhibit the same grazing pressure as 1 dry sheep equivalent.
  • Predation of native animals occurs by species such as foxes, feral and domestic cats and wild dogs. Foxes are very intelligent predators which prey on native animals, young lambs and calves and spread weeds. Domestic, stray and feral cats are a particularly dangerous predator to birds and smaller marsupials such as Sugar Gliders. The Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) and Planning's Strategic Management Prospects output for the Shire predicts that controlling foxes and cats will have the biggest impact on native birds, mammals and reptiles compared to any other management technique. 

Our Weed and Pest Animal Strategy 2014-2024 for more information on Council's management of pest animals in the shire, or you can contact our Environment team a call on (03) 5422 0333 or email

Agriculture Victoria has more detailed information on pest animal management.


The Red Fox, also known as the European Fox, were first introduced in the late 1800s for the purpose of recreational hunting. They are now responsible for agricultural and environmental impacts valued at over $200 million per annum nationally. They are opportunistic predators and show considerable variation in behaviour, diet and population density, which makes them very adaptable to changing environments. There are many different species of fox throughout the world, but only the Red Fox is found in Australia.

‘Predation by the European red fox’ is listed as a key threatening process under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

Agriculture Victoria have more detailed information about the control of foxes. If you would like more information on Council's fox control programs, please contact the Environment Team at or (03) 5422 0333.

Note: take caution when using control methods such as poison baits. Poisons can impact native wildlife including Brush-tailed Phascogale, Antechinus and various possums and can also be harmful to domestic dogs and cats. Poisons can also kill birds of prey through secondary poisoning. Always consult an expert before using poison baits.

Chicken coops and foxes

Foxes will eat chickens given the chance. An appropriate coop should be installed to keep foxes and other predators away from your chickens.

Below are some measures you can take to keep your chickens safe:

  • Make sure your chicken coop is secure and is made from strong galvanised wire mesh.
  • A wire mesh floor will assist in the prevention of foxes digging under your coop, or alternatively, dig the sides of your coop deep into the ground.
  • Chicken coops should have a roof on them, including chicken runs as foxes can climb fences.
  • Sensor lights on your coop will detect movement and the bright light may scare a fox away.
  • Family dogs are a great deterrent.
  • Don't let your chickens wander without appropriate fencing.


Domestic cats can stray widely, especially at night. Research has shown that on average that one domestic cat prey on approximately 32 native animals each year (Patton, 1991). With around 3,000 domestic cats registered in the shire, there is potential for the demise of 96,000 native animals in the Macedon Ranges Shire every year

They are a particularly dangerous predator to birds, small mammals, birds and reptiles.

There is currently no effective way to control feral cats on a large scale.

Domestic cats should be kept indoors at night and always have a triple bell attached to their collar. It is illegal for cats to be allowed to roam outside of your own property.

Contact Council on (03) 5422 0333 if you see roaming cats, or cats chasing wildlife.

Feral Cats 

Feral cats have been declared as a pest animal in Victoria by the Labor Government.

Feral cats live, hunt and reproduce in the wild. They are the same species as domestic cats but differ in how and where they live. Feral cats generally eat small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.

Agriculture Victoria have more detailed information about feral cats.

Cat trapping program  

We can lend you cat traps if you are concerned about feral or stray cats on your property.

Find out more

European rabbits and European Hare

European Rabbits and European Hares can have a significant impact on the natural environment, and are one of the top 10 pest animals in Australia. They can increase in numbers very quickly, which can lead to overgrazing problems and interfere with natural regeneration. They are most active in the late afternoon into the night and compete with native wildlife and livestock for food. 

Some tips for controlling them include:

  • assessing the scale and cause of the problem before developing a control program.
  • implementing a combination of suitable treatments such as rabbit proof fencing, baiting (outside populated areas), and fumigation, biological control and warren destruction. No one technique will solve the problem by itself.
  • coordinating treatment with your neighbors where possible.
  • not giving up! Eradicating rabbits takes time and persistence.

For more information on controlling rabbits and the latest rabbit biocontrol, visit PestSmart Connect


Rats and mice are not only found around our properties and homes, but are also found in natural bushland settings where food resources are high. They are opportunistic and will eat eggs, small birds and other small mammals. In coastal areas, rats have been blamed for loss of sea bird populations.

What is the difference between a Black Rat, an Antechinus and a Bush Rat?

To the untrained eye, these species may look very similar but the native Antechinus and Bush Rat have some distinct differences that distinguish them from the introduced pests Black and Brown Rat. Rats are active during both day and night and are fearless around humans. Native rats are much shyer animals and prefer to nest in burrows under logs or rocks.


The Antechinus is a native nocturnal small carnivorous marsupial. They are grey-brown in colour, have a long nose, large thin ears and tail the same length as its body or shorter. The Antechinus tends to move across the ground in a hop, while rats run in a continuous motion.

Bush Rat

The Bush Rat is a native nocturnal rat that is grey-brown in colour, has a round body shape, round ears and a tail shorter than its body. The Bush Rat is an omnivore, eating insects, fruits, grasses and fungi. Bush Rats are one of the most common native species of rat found.

Black Rat

Black Rats are usually brown in colour, have large ears and eyes, pointed nose and its tail is longer that its body. The Black Rat is the species of rat that people will most often see in and around their homes.

Brown Rat

Brown Rats are brown in colour, small ears and eyes, blunt nose and its tail is shorter than its body. The Brown Rat can grow to almost twice the size of a Black Rat.


Mice, or the house mouse have distinctive chisel shaped front teeth, large eyes in a small head, large round ears and a scaly tail about the same as its body length.